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Last minute decision extends hospitality lockdown

Colin Neill, chief executive, Hospitality Ulster.

A hospitality lockdown due to end today has been extended to November 20 for cafes, coffee shops and non-licensed restaurants and November 27 for wet pubs and other licensed premises.

Frustration mounted in the Northern Ireland hospitality sector this week as the Executive failed to agree on extension of the Covid-19 restrictions until Thursday evening.

“We welcome that the NI Executive has come to a decision on the restrictions placed on the hospitality industry and close contact businesses,” said Colin Neill, chief executive, Hospitality Ulster. “This brings to a conclusion a period of uncertainty and will hopefully result in thousands of jobs and businesses being saved.

“Our members will do everything they can to make sure they reopen successfully and safely in little over two weeks’ time.

“We remain committed to working with the NI Executive to make sure our businesses maintain a Covid secure environment and develop a Covid Secure Standard across the industry.

“The Christmas period is vital for our hospitality businesses and while we know that this year will be a lot different, it will provide a critical, if not much reduced, income to help secure jobs and businesses.”

“It has been suggested that further support will be provided for mitigations to reduce risk within the hospitality sector, including improved ventilation and requirements for the recording of customer information for contact tracing purposes – this would be a welcome step by those in the industry.

“We await further detail on what additional finance in terms of grant support will be available over this two-week period. While pubs and restaurants may be closed, the bills continue to mount on a daily basis therefore extra financial support is needed now to protect businesses and jobs and we hope that the NI Executive will be swift in getting this money into bank accounts.”

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